Pleasureville City Commission debates business in basement

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How did Grigsby gain control of city’s space?

By Brad Bowman

PLEASUREVILLE – Pleasureville City Commissioners had a contentious debate about the use of the Pleasureville City Hall’s basement during a recent meeting with the city clerk and mayor.

The basement has been used as a restaurant and currently houses a catering business – but without the consent of all the commissioners.

Verna Stivers, the city clerk, said the commission approved renting the basement to former commissioner Gary Grigsby so he could run his catering business and have private dinner parties, but that fact was disputed.

“We never agreed to that.”  Commissioner Shawn Mertz said in a meeting last month. “We never voted on him being able to lease that out.”

Pleasureville Mayor Rodney Young asked Mertz what he proposed and informed him that most of the furnishings in the basement belonged to Grigsby.

“Everything down there belongs to Gary,” Young said. “So if we rent it out to somebody else and stuff’s tore up, who’s liable? The city would be responsible for everything down there. Or we can have him move everything out and then rent it to anybody. See that’s the problem.”

When asked, Stivers told Mertz that Grigsby rented the basement for $25 a month.

Mertz emphasized that the commission never voted on the issue.

Stivers said the decision was in the prior month’s minutes and decided by the board. Commissioner Diane Perry agreed with Mertz. “He [Grigsby] was supposed to be here in May to discuss it,” Perry said.

Stivers continued pressing that the decision was in the minutes.

“We did not agree on that. That was never voted on,” Mertz said. “What was said was he [Grigsby] needs to come to the next meeting. and we’ll talk about it was what was said. We never had a vote. There was never a motion. There was never a second; there was never nothing.”

Mertz contended that $25 a month rate was too low when residents could rent out the facility once a month for a birthday party and the city would make more money. Former commissioner Becky Edmonson agreed, saying that the decision was bad business and $25 was too cheap to let someone use the basement as storage.

Edmonson asked why Grigsby previously paid $100 a month for the rental and now only paid $25.

“Because it was so nasty downstairs after the other people left,” Stivers said. “He done a tremendous amount of cleaning.  You will not believe how clean it is downstairs.”

Said Perry: “I still think though he should’ve shown up in May. That was the way we left this in April. He was to be here in May.”

Stivers: “Well I think that it’s a shame that he’s done all that work downstairs, and if you would just see what he’s done.”

Perry: “He also, though, has a free place to put his furniture.”

Mertz contended that the basement space should be available to other people instead of solely Grigsby. Mertz proposed that the city pay Grigsby if renters used his equipment and furnishings or proposed renting the space with the understanding that Grigsby’s equipment wouldn’t be used.

“If we put plastic tables and chairs and then put a stove down there like we do at the other place [ the community building by the Pleasureville Fire Department], it would be exactly the same  then we’d have two places to rent out  with twice the income. I guarantee you there’s times when someone else wants to rent that building out there and has nowhere to go. So, hey, now we have a second place.”

Stivers contested that Grigsby owned everything in the basement except a stove and a double oven.

Young opposed Mertz’s idea and said that, if Grigsby did not agree to an increase in the rent or sharing the space, the city would have nothing in the space to attract renters.

“I’ll talk to him and see if he’ll come to the board meeting and see what he wants to do,” Young said. “If he wants to take everything out then there will just be an empty building and we’ll have nothing that looks like that and the city’s going to be out the expense of tables and chairs.  There won’t be anything else except table and chairs.”

Stivers said she thought the city should compensate Grigsby if the commission leased the space out.

“I think that if the city fixes it where that other people has an opportunity to rent that downstairs, I think the city should be responsible for paying him for his labor and paint and everything that he has put into that to clean that up,” Stivers said. “I don’t want to talk to him about this because I think it’s too late. I mean it was in the minutes and it was voted on to accept the minutes.”

Mertz suggested two scenarios: that the city buy tables and chairs to put in the basement if Grigsby left and pay him for the cleanup work but take the $25 monthly rate off the table and compensate him for the use of his equipment.

“Shawn, I don’t think you’ve been downstairs and seen the quality of what’s down there,” Stivers said. “It’s worth by far more than ten dollars more than what that community building is. I think it would be an insult to him to rent that out for sixty dollars and use his stuff.”

Edmonson asked who approved Grigsby to paint and clean the basement.

Stivers confirmed that the issue had been discussed and that Grigsby knew he could lease it at the $25 monthly rate before he performed the renovations.

“We didn’t talk about it here before he started cleaning,” Mertz said. “It was never brought up at this meeting. It was brought up after he had done the work.”

An attendee asked during the meeting why Grigsby furnished the basement with tables and chairs. The attendee was under the impression Grigsby just occasionally baked.

“He has a catering business, and he does private parties downstairs,” Stivers said. “Like if the chamber of commerce wanted to do their dinner downstairs, they would contract him to do the chamber’s dinner or if like our church has dinners sometimes downstairs.”

The resident asked how much compensation the city received for Grigsby’s catered dinners.

“Nothing,” Young said.

“Well see you’re losing money right there. If he’s going to have private parties down there and only pay X-amount of dollars a month and he’s charging these parties three hundred or four hundred dollars for every one he has, then the city’s losing money, and he’s coming out scot-free,” the resident said.

“I’ll call him and talk to him,” Young said. “If he wants to move stuff out, he can move it out, and we go from there. I don’t know what else to do.”